Once upon a time, according to the way-back machine, a baby boy was born. (Not that one!) It was just after midnight on January 1, 1958 in St. Paul, Minnesota.
As was the tradition in that particular place and time, the newspaper published the big event… you know, first baby of the New Year. Lots of applause…
This particular little guy was named Sputnik Eisenhower Jones. Really!
Now you may, quite reasonably, be wondering why I know this story and/or why I’m telling it now.
Glad you asked!
I know this story because my mom was obsessed with baby names, looking forward, as she was, to my own birth which was about 7 weeks into the future.
She was aghast that parents would saddle a defenseless little one with such a name.
She also used to tell me, when I was frustrated by people calling me Susie – which does not happen anymore!!! – that I should just be glad she hadn’t named me Sputnik Eisenhower Jones.
And I was.
Now, I know more! Specifically about the impact of context on our lives and choices.
Eisenhower was midway through his two-term presidency.
He signed the Civil Rights act of 1957 and sent Army troops to enforce federal court orders, integrating schools in Little Rock, Arkansas. And he promoted the establishment of strong science education via the National Defense Education Act.
Meanwhile, Russia launched the first artificial Earth satellite in October of 1957. It’s name was, indeed, Sputnik!
A huge scientific breakthrough with obvious questions for the future.
And there, on January 1, 1958… a baby boy with a serious handful of a name in a family, likely not far in generations from the sharecropping South, clearly invested in Civil Rights.
Somehow, all these years later, that little guy – whom I hope somebody had the sense to call Nick, at least during Junior High – is part of my story. Of my understanding of how we relate to the world.
If you’ve been hanging around a while, you’ve probably noticed that I like questions a lot, so, two questions, in this context-laden primary election season in the USA…
How will you use the context of this moment to understand your place in the world?
And how will you use that understanding to shape your choices?
Just in case you’re wondering… those questions work wherever you live! And they are even more urgent while school children are being shot. Again.
So, how will we ALL use that understanding to shape our choices?
I’m really hoping you’ll leave a comment, or email me, and let me know what you think. Or wonder… firstname.lastname@example.org
ps… in the irony abounds department, Eisenhower was a Republican!
pps… hunting inspiration? Field Trip! FierceArtWithHeart (able to choose tanks still at cost!) and lots of cool art, mugs, and things of wonder!